Cheltenham Clues – 31st December 2018

Clan Des Obeaux and Thistlecrack in the 2018 King George VI Chase at Kempton

Here at myracing, we ended the ITV Racing tips year with a brilliant 61/1 Each Way Double Winner on the final day in 2018 for the channel. Let’s strive for more of the same next year, including for the Cheltenham Festival!

It has been a Christmas full of shake ups in the Cheltenham antepost markets, with odds on favourite after odds on favourite getting turned over. Market leaders have flip flopped, reputations have enhanced and dwindled, as well as some extremely surprising results such as Buveur D’Air losing to stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle. With so much action taking place over the past couple of weeks, this is going to be more of a summary of the affected races in order to cover a broader range of horses.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

  • Angels Breath leapt to the top of the market following a smooth success in Grade 2 company on his debut for Nicky Henderson. Lack of experience certainly didn’t find him out and with the likelihood of plenty more to come, is one to firmly keep an eye on.
  • Willie Mullins’ Aramon sprinted to an emphatic ten length victory in the Future Champions Novices’ Hurdle. It was by far a career best and a horse from that stable can never be discounted, especially at 16/1.
  • Despite not being able to get off the mark on hurdling debut when 13/8 favourite, Mister Fisher impressively took care of some smart rivals on Boxing Day at Kempton to thrust himself into contention for the Supreme.

Arkle Novices’ Chase

  • Dynamite Dollars won in both Grade 1 and Grade 2 company in December, getting the better of Lalor and Kalashnikov in each race. Those three are now very tightly packed at the top of the market with arguably the formerly mentioned being the one they have to beat now.
  • There were more upsets in Ireland as Mengli Khan could only manage fourth in the Racing Post Novices’ Chase which was won by Le Richebourg. The latter was narrowly beaten by Delta Work over further the time before so the drop back in trip clearly helped him and will likely be campaigned as such as for the remainder of the season.

Champion Hurdle

  • Reigning champion Buveur D’Air suffered a shock defeat to stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. The Mare loved the unseasonably good ground conditions and if it turned up similar in March, could well give her yard companion a scare once more. The dual champion hurdler clobbered the third flight from home which didn’t appear to effect him at the time, but may well have had more of an impact than first appeared. He’s still the one to beat when defending his title though.
  • Another who appreciated the underfoot conditions was Sharjah in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown. He readily scooted clear of his rivals after the last and looks a leading contender from Ireland to challenge the British horses. Samcro was once again underwhelming in fifth and has slipped to as big as 25/1 for Tuesday’s showpiece.

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

  • Champ lived up to the name when gaining his first Grade 1 in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury. He quickened up smartly and is now 5/1 favourite for the Ballymore, deservedly so at present. Unbeaten in four starts this season he’s yet to put a foot wrong and despite being a bit of a keen goer, the trip looks ideal.
  • Gigginstown could have a very smart recruit in the shape of Battleoverdoyen. He was mightily impressive on hurdling debut over two miles when winning by thirteen lengths and could be even better over further considering he’s a Point to Point winner. Now 14/1 for the Ballymore, he could be the owners leading hope.

RSA Novices’ Chase

  • Antepost favourite Santini could only manage third in the Feltham Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day, but it appeared the speedy nature of the track didn’t really suit him. Outpaced before staying on well after the last, Cheltenham should suit him far more.
  • La Bague Au Roi got the better of Topofthegame in the aforementioned Boxing Day contest, displaying her terrific attitude with a great jump at the last. They’re both in the top five in the betting and would both have the option of the JLT as well given their form over shorter. That race could end up working out very well with the talent of the first three home.
  • Last seasons Pertemps Final winner Delta Work claimed his second Grade 1 in succession when beating Mortal at Leopardstown, who was unlucky not to finish closer following a bad mistake at the final flight. They’re 6/1 and 20/1 respectively.
  • Vinndication extended his unbeaten record to six when showing supreme staying power to win the Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot. His attitude is tremendous and the stern three mile test of the RSA could suit him down to the ground, for which he’s a 16/1 shot.

Stayers’ Hurdle

  • Apple’s Jade showed her class once again when claiming the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle by a huge twenty-six lengths – it would be brilliant to see her in this contest come March. Her task was made easier at Leopardstown when Faugheen suffered a nasty fall two from home, thankfully he got up! He hadn’t been asked the question yet so there was no telling what would have happened, but he may well have given the Mare a fright.
  • The Long Walk Hurdle was won by Paisley Park who kept on really well after the last. On that evidence the hill at Cheltenham will be no problem to him whatsoever, so he can’t be underestimated at 14/1.

Triumph Hurdle

  • Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap battled out an excellent finish at Leopardstown when drawing eight lengths clear of the third. The former came out on top with a better jump at the last, but both could develop into smart hurdlers and are 10/1 and 14/1 respectively for Cheltenham.
  • Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin showed plenty of grit and determination to hold off the challenge of Adjali in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. The former remains available at 14/1 which looks more than fair considering his attitude and the fact he’s won at the track. Adjali is 16/1 but can’t be given up on just yet.

Gold Cup

  • Might Bite (16/1) seems to have really lost his way after another disappointing performance, this time in the King George, so he needs to find some of his old spark from somewhere. Clan Des Obeaux (10/1) was the winner and this improver will only be seven years old for this seasons Blue Riband event. It was a bold performance in second from Thistlecrack (14/1) who appeared back to his enthusiastic best. The best effort with the Gold Cup in mind perhaps came from the defending champion Native River (5/1). Outpaced at a venue which didn’t suit him, he ran on strongly to suggest a return to Cheltenham will see him back to his best.
  • A canny ride from David Mullins saw Kemboy home in front in the Savills Chase to elevate him to 8/1, third in for the Gold Cup. He certainly wasn’t stopping at the line and would be a fascinating runner for the Supreme Horse Racing Club. Road To Respect had a luckless run, caught short of room on the rail after four out where he had to be gathered up, checking his momentum. Then he stumbled badly when making ground on the bend after three out which cost him plenty of ground. The fact he ran on to almost snatch second on the line is a remarkable effort in the circumstances.

This Week’s Racing

New Years Day sees racing return to Prestbury Park where we will have Cheltenham tips for all seven races. Sandown hosts the Tolworth Hurdle on Saturday which is always a race to keep an eye on; last year it produced the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 1-2 Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov.

Previous Articles

Cheltenham Clues 17th December

Cheltenham Clues 10th December

Cheltenham Clues 3rd December

Cheltenham Clues 26th November

Cheltenham Clues 19th November

Cheltenham Clues 12th November

Cheltenham Clues 5th November

Cheltenham Clues 29th October

Cheltenham Clues 22nd October

Cheltenham Clues 15th October

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